With just 10 wins in 44 games, the Warriors are sitting dead last in the NBA on a pace to win 19 games, which would represent the worst one-year falloff of any team that had made the Finals in league history. Their chances for even a decent season were dashed back when Stephen Curry injured his hand at the end of October.
But there is hope! Well, sort of.
According to a report from The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II, a longtime Bay Area writer, Curry is aiming to come back this season with March 1 as a potential return date. Thompson did hedge on just how precise that date is, writing, “That’s not set in stone, of course. More like a target date. But expect a return by the face of the franchise before next season.”
When Curry originally broke a bone in his left hand on October 30, in Golden State’s fourth game, he had surgery to insert pins in the bone and was given a timetable for a return of three-to-four months. He had another surgery in December to have the pins removed and his schedule of recovery remained unchanged.
A March 1 return would be on the back end of his timetable but still within the three-to-four months projected for his return. Curry said this week he has had no setbacks in his rehab.
Injuries Doomed Golden State This Year
Curry joined his Splash Brother teammate, Klay Thompson, in missing most of the season after Thompson tore his ACL during last year’s loss in the Finals to the Raptors. Thompson originally hoped to return at some point this season, but Warriors brass squelched that notion.
The Warriors have a pair of other former All-Stars—guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Draymond Green—who have also missed significant time. Green has missed 10 games this season and Russell missed 16.
Because of the injuries, Golden State has used 21 starting lineups in 44 games this season. Even after Curry returns, it’s unlikely that he will have much impact on the team’s fortunes. If he comes back on March 1, he will have only 21 games remaining to play.
The silver lining there, however, is that the Warriors are on pace to be the worst team in the league and at least have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the NBA’s draft. The Warriors are loaded with guards, of course, and this year’s draft is expected to be guard-heavy. But Golden State would be in a position to choose 7-foot center/forward James Wiseman, formerly of Memphis.
Warriors Focused on Next Season
More likely, the Warriors could wait until the NBA’s lottery drawing in May to see where the pick falls, then look to trade the pick, either as part of a wider package or for veteran help. There have been rumors going back to last summer that Golden State would seek to trade Russell, acquired in a sign-and-trade for Kevin Durant, once the opportunity presented itself.
Rumors have cropped up that Minnesota will put together a package for Russell ahead of the February 6 trade deadline, but the Warriors are looking to create a market for Russell and feel they could better do that in the offseason, especially if he can be packaged with the team’s draft pick for a star in return.
And of course, there have been persistent rumors that the Warriors will have their eye on the big prize of 2021 free agency, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Either way, the Warriors are not much focused on this season. They’ve tried to develop some younger players, like rookies Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole, as well as second-year man Omari Spellman, hopeful that they can be bench contributors next season—when the team will have Curry, Thompson, Green and either Russell or whomever they could acquire in a trade on hand.
Curry could be back on March 1, then. But it would mostly be to shake off some rust and prepare for next season.